A Fulfilling Trek To Sondai Fort
Sondai trek is a must-do trek especially in Monsoon as for such a simple trek it has to have a view to offer. The huge area of Morbe dam appears as an ocean from the top. Also visible (if not cloudy) from Sondai are Irshalgad, Matheran and if the weather is extremely clear you can spot Karnala & Manikgad as well. Folks, come along with me on another enchanting trek.
How to Reach From Mumbai?
Mumbai Local Train: The cheapest and most convenient way to reach Sondaiwadi base village of Sondai Fort trail for Mumbaikar is through Local Train (Central Railway). Take a Karjact/ Khopoli bound local train and alight at Karjat. Make a quick move to ST Bus depot to take any bus going to Panvel/Chouk/Rasayani, which can drop you at Borgaon phata. No direct Bus/rickshaw is available from Karjat to Sondaiwadi. From Borgaon phata there is no dedicated transport available. One has to walk around 5 kms of the scenic road from Borgaon phata to Sondaiwadi from where the trek starts. Alternatively, you can take private rickshaw/tum-tum from Karjat Railway Station to Sondaiwadi. Should cost around ₹ 500 to ₹ 600 for round way drop with a hard negotiation.
Private Car: If comfort is your priority and travelling in a group go for a by car. Sondaiwadi is well-connected to Mumbai by roadways it will take around 2 hours. Just add Sondai Fort or Sondewadi On Google Maps and drive towards it through this beautiful long drive.
Trek To Sondai Fort
Sondai is a small fort, well, less of a fort and more a watchtower. It’s a part of the Karjat or Matheran range of mountains. A less known fort, the name of the fort is derived from the temple of Goddess Sondai at the top of the mountain.
Embarked on our trek and right ahead you would see the summit you are heading for. The entire trail is well marked till the top. The trek is through a less dense forest and one can reach the top of the fort in about an hour or so. Though a relatively easy trek, it has got quite a few rock patches and one needs to be careful at these. Some of these rock patches have carved steps but in the rains, it could pose to be a little tricky.
After about 40 minutes of trekking, you reach a plateau and as you turn back; the Morbe dam lies there, spread with open arms, calm and placid like a map from an atlas. Right ahead, in the distance, you can see the peak of Irshalgad and to the right, the peaks of Matheran mesmerize the onlooker.
To the left of the Morbe dam, lies the smaller Vavarle dam. From the plateau, you can see the iron ladder which takes us to the top of the mountain. There are two water cisterns to the left, carved in the rocks but not suitable to be used as portable water. Another 10 minutes of climb from these cisterns and one comes across a rock patch which is at the edge of the mountain. It’s a free climb of about 15 feet and firm grips of both hands and feet are needed. Needless to say one needs to be extra careful while crossing this patch. Once the rock patch is crossed, the iron ladder takes us almost to the peak of the fort.
The top of the fort is a very small plateau with the idol of Goddess Sondai sitting peacefully under a tree. It is advisable to remove your footwear here. There are no structural remnants of the fort. As per local during Diwali, the temple attracts people from the nearby villages to give their offerings to the Goddess. A ‘bhagwa’ orange flag with Chattrapati Shivaji Maharaj’s face flutters high in the sky. There are no structural remnants of the fort.
There is nothing much to do on the top. ‘Nothing much to do’ however is an understatement when you have such breathtaking views on the palette around you while enjoying our packed lunches and appreciating the magnificence of nature.
And then it time to descend and go back home but before heading home spent some time in the flowing water of the Morbe dam, a little away from Sondewadi. It was a very enjoyable and thrilling trek; marred only by the absence of the rains in my case. The rain God eluded us on this trek and it was extremely hot and humid as panting and puffing, we climbed the mountain. But then, one can’t always be lucky, can you?
Sondai fort trek is best one-day treks near Mumbai and Pune. Monsoon season is the best time to visit Sondai fort. Sondai fort is best and ideal treks for beginners and first-timers.
Listen To Me:
- Carry some ready to eat food, atleast 2 litres of water and mat/bedsheet to rest. There are no shops at Sondewadi, so one is better off buying whatever they need from Karjat station or from home.
- Talk to the native villagers gently and give respect to them, because you are their guests.
- Carry an Id proof.
- You won't find any fancy hotel or homestay place in the base village. So it advisable to take a local villager as a guide and pay him for your breakfast and lunch and also you can leave your bag at their place and carry only must required things.
Ganpati Gadad Trek Level: Easy to Moderate.
Base Village: Sondewadi near Karjat
Altitude: 1200ft ASL
Time Required: 2 hours round way.
Region: Raigad District